What should leaders focus on during the United Nations General Assembly High-level week 2022 to help restore some popular trust in international collective action and multilateralism?

Leaders will come together in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) High Level Week starting September 19 for both a return to diplomacy and a test of diplomacy.  At the last minute, the schedule for the meetings has been thrown into disarray by the death of the HM Queen Elizabeth II, with her funeral in London scheduled for September 19: this will draw attendance from many heads of state and governments and will mean that the earliest many leaders will arrive in New York for UNGA is the night of September 19-20

United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. (Photo: navsesto / Depositphotos.com)

Nonetheless, these meetings offer the chance for a return to diplomacy because it will be the first high-level week in three years that approaches normal in-person attendance and meetings (although access to the United Nations [UN] building will still be restricted for all except diplomats and special invitees). Over 100 heads of state and 50 heads of government were confirmed, although it is not clear the extent to which this will change due to the UK funeral ceremonies.  The current signals are that this will affect timings more than overall attendance: President Biden’s speech for example will shift to Wednesday, September 20 instead of the traditional Tuesday address.

As for a test of diplomacy, this is because the sense last year that “things could hardly get worse,” after 18 months of the pandemic, has proven to be an underestimation: the invasion of Ukraine has made the political, security, and socio-economic landscape considerably worse than it was in September 2021.

In these circumstances, CIC experts cover what leaders coming to the high-level week should focus on, focusing the following items that we hope to see transpire during high-level week in both public events and the bilateral/closed meetings.

[ Read the full analysis: What should leaders focus on during the United Nations General Assembly High-level week 2022 to help restore some popular trust in international collective action and multilateralism? ]

This analysis is part of the CIC Perspectives series.

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Sep 15, 2022
Sarah Cliffe, Karina Gerlach, Hanny Megally